In the context of Environmental Ethics, Ecofeminism can be defined as a set of philosophies and movements that recognize interconnections between environmental issues and feminist concerns.
The course will introduce the philosophies and practices of transnational ecofeminist movements and will analyze various approaches that the interconnection between gender and ecology is capable of originating in different cultural contexts and globally.
Ecofeminism considers to which extent the domination of nature and the domination of women insist on the same paradigm, that presents a hierarchical division of beings, a separation between nature and culture that correspond to a binary division between genders, in which “nature” and “women” (as well as other form of gendered identities) are devaluated, and anthropocentrism – which in fact take the shape of androcentrism, since “man” is considered as the norm and other subjectivities as “deviances”.
The term was created in 1974 by Francoise D'Eaubonne and ecofeminist activism grew during the 1980s and 1990s among women from the anti-nuclear, environmental, and lesbian- feminist movements. Today, Ecofeminism in its plurality of aspects (including antispecism, activism against neoliberal natural exploitations and consequences of climate changes, revivals of indigenous knowledge and non –dualistic cosmovisions) constitutes a fundamental part of transnational feminist movements.
Even though at its inception the Ecofeminist approach was criticized for presenting rather essentialistic assumptions of concepts such as “woman” and “nature”, contemporary ecofeminist movements – at least some of them – are displaying intersectional, intercultural and transnational standpoints and methodologies.
As both an ecological philosophy and a social movement, ecofeminism embodies a multifaceted critique of global environmental politics. In contrast to mainstream approaches to global environmental politics, which focus on the role of the nation state or institutions in global, collective efforts to protect and manage the natural environment, feminist critiques emphasize the contextualized experiences of women in politics. Specifically, Ecofeminism has made critical and significant contributions to the discourses on environmental ethics and the interrelationships among gender, environment, and development, unveiling the importance of theoretically and practically contrasting “Monocultures of Mind”, as Vandana Shiva suggests. The necessity of overcoming the dualistic vision of the Nature-Culture relation and patriarchism stimulates also a critical reflection on mainstream scientific approach in “the West”, that challenges presuppositions on the way scientific research should be conducted, and results in original theoretical and practical contributions, such as Donna Haraway’s and Braidotti’s theory of zoecentrism and naturcultural continuum or Jane Goodall empathic approach to biology and ethology.
Thanks to the endorsement of Post-Colonial and De-colonial perspectives. Ecofeminist discourses progressively recognize the importance of enhancing the role of women who belongs to indigenous and rural communities, coming especially from the “Global South”. It has been aknowledged that indigenous and peasant women (as well as women involved in fishery, forest and environmental conservation), women of low income communities of colour are taking the brunt of contemporary ecologic crisis that originates from neoliberal criteria of exploitation. Basing on different cosmovisions and rationales vis-a-vis the so-called “Western anthropocentrism/anercentrism”, the knowledge gained throughout centuries by women belonging to cultures often labelled as “undeveloped” by a colonialistic and ethnocentric logic is on the contrary considered as fundamental in providing analysis and possible solutions to contextual and global environmental issues.
The Course will provide an introduction to the central themes of ecofeminist theory and praxis.
It will briefly summarize history of Ecofeminism adopting an intercultural and a glocal perspective, presenting how theories and movements that can be ascribed to this approach stem from diverse cultural contexts and find ways to interact and to create an original arena for poli-logical discussion and platforms for actions.
It will then explores the connection between the economic development of the natural world and women's (as well as other “feminized” subjectivities’) status and roles worldwide and analyzes Case Studies that shows how women agency is gaining momentum in protecting the environment, providing models for sustainable development, establishing gender equality and developing mutually enhancing human-earth relations.
The Course will show to which extent Ecofeminist transnational activism has provided a basis for understanding the utility of gender analyses for global environmental politics (GEP) to be adopted by International Agencies.
The Course will use philosophical, anthropological, historical literature to provide students with theoretical bases. Video material (short documentaries and movies, interviews, ethnographies) will be shown to stimulate critical discussion in class. Students are required to actively participate, presenting examples of how the connection between gender and ecological issues is interpreted in their cultural context of origin.
1) Challenging the Nature/Culture Paradigm and the Gendered Division on the World.
2) Ecofeminisms: a brief intercultural history.
3) The Chipko Movement in India. A case Study.
4) Bio and Cultural diversity Vs Monocultures of Mind: Vandana Shiva.
5) Gender and Ecology in the context of International Agencies.
6) Ecofeminism and the Posthuman: creating kinship from a zoecentric perspective. Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti.
7) Jane Goodall: doing Science with Chimps.
8) Transnational Ecofeminist Movements.
9) New Amazons: Indigenous Women protecting the Forest
10) Female Rangers and Anti Poach Movement in Africa
11) The Women of Standing Rock: protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline
- Global Gender and Evironmental Outlook, United Nation Environment Programme 2016
- Merchant, C. Radical Ecology. The Search for a Livable World, Routledge 2005.
- Braidotti, R. “A Theoretical Framework for Critical Posthumanities” Theory, Culture & Society
2019, Vol. 36(6) 31–61
-Casselot, M. A. "The Inevitability of Care in a Posthuman World" Gnosis, Journal of Philosophy, vol. 14 n. 2 (2015)
- Haraway, D. “The Promises of the Monster: a Rigenerative Politics for the Inappropriate/d Others” In Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, Paula A. Treichler, eds., Cultural Studies (New York; Routledge, 1992) , pp. 295-337.
- Hunt, K. “It's More Than Planting Trees, It's Planting Ideas”: Ecofeminist Praxis in the Green Belt Movement" Southern Communication Journal, Univeristy of Utah, 2014
- Kapoor, P. “The Challenge of an Earth Democracy: Vandana Shiva and the Relevance of Transnational Feminism” in Mediaciones, Bogotà, July-December 2014
- Parke-Sutherland, Tina, "Ecofeminist Activism and the Greening of Native America"
American Studies in Scandinavia, 50:1 (2018), pp. 123-149. Published by the Nordic Association for American Studies (NAAS).
- Shiva, V. and J. Bandyopadhyay “The Evolution, Structure, and Impact of the Chipko Movement” Mountain Research and Development, Vol. 6, No. 2 (May, 1986), pp. 133-142
- Sturgeon, N. "Ecofeminist Movements" in Carolyn Merchant (ed. by) From Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory, Second Edition, 2007
- Volkart, Y. "TECHNO-ECOFEMINISM. Nonhuman Sensations in Technoplanetary Layers" in Cornelia Sollfrank (ed.by) The Beautiful Warriors. Technofeminist Praxis in the 21. Century. Minor Compositions 2019.
- Worsley, C. "Jane Goodall: Humanity and the Chimpanzee", Journal O/ the Manitoba. Anthropology Students' Association, 28, 106–122. Xu, T. (2013)
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Indigenous Woman Declaration, Beijing 1995.